Saturday, January 10, 2009

On Wednesday evening the Terps played host Morgan State. I arrived with plenty of time to spare so that I could get my laptop configured and ready for offloading. After connecting my laptop and assembling my glass and bodies I headed out to the hardwood.

Where to sit on the baseline is a real challenge.

There are regular photographers that shoot for Terrapin Times, AP, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and UPI that know all the rules. There's a pecking order when it comes to spots on the baseline and for the most part the regular folks know how the algorithm works and they follow it.

However, there are always out-of-towners that come in for a single game and are unfamiliar with the process. That's completely understandable and I've been in the situation before having traveled to remote venues. Saying "hey I'm new here and need some help" is not unfamiliar to me.

The organizations that send photographers to Terrapin events receive their credentials and then it's up to the team photographer (Greg Fiume) to assign spots on the baseline. I'm sure that Greg hears nothing but grief from various photographers about their position in the lineup (hint: seniority corresponds to spots out towards the edge), and I've seen a lot of photographers become quite vocal when they believe their position on the baseline does not accurately represent their seniority.

Despite the headache Greg puts the cards out for nearly every game the Terps play. Despite the politics that inevitably fall out of this "who's who on the baseline" game the end goal is to clearly identify where photographers should sit so that there isn't disagreement at the last minute. I think this is tremendously valuable!

If you ignore the bickering amongst local photographers and instead look at how local and remote photographers interact it quickly becomes obvious that having assigned seating makes a whole lot of sense! Photographers on remote assignment from distant schools don't know where they are supposed to sit and having the help of a team photographer to explicitly say "you should sit here" (via a sheet of paper on the baseline) seems like a really good idea.

Greg's been out for the past couple of games covering the Terps on the road and as a result the seating assignments were not handed out. There was some confusion on the baseline that I described in previous blogs and I was happy that with Greg's return the seating assignments were reestablished.

So, after preparing my camera gear I headed out to the baseline to scout out my spot. Almost ironically, I found that the same individual who had given me the cold shoulder a week ago had again grabbed my spot. Again I went through the mental question of "do I make a big deal of this?" and concluded that it was not worth it. I've been shooting from the stands for most of the first half and realized that by the time I moved down to the baseline there would most likely be a space for me. None-the-less, I chuckled thinking about how I had looked forward to Greg's return (along with the seating assignments) but now that it had happened the process broke down and my spot was taken!

I also had the opportunity to meet Adrian Hood, a new photographer we hired at the DC Sports Box. Adrian shot the Terps back in Cole Field House and was able to talk shop when it came to the optics and bodies associated with photography. I tried to help him out by going over some basic ground rules at Comcast that would help him stay out of trouble but I'm sure it was difficult for him to hear it all - the band was playing in our ear for most of the time!


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